Old Songs, Old Friends, New Songs, New Friends

Day 3 in Wichita, doing research, getting some writing done, attending the Kansas Association of Historians, reconnecting with old friends, making some new (younger) ones, livestreaming the Willow Creek Folk School, and today, presenting research on Great Plains folksong.

Last night, returning to my palatial Best Western room from sessions of the KAH, I went live with WCFS #95. This was essentially a shakedown of the paper I will present today, a study of the prairie ballad, “The Stern Old Bachelor.” I discovered the original text and author of the ballad last year in research for the WCFS. Today’s paper presentation will be the first more formal scholarly packaging of my research on Great Plains balladry. It is the first of many to come. (The second will be next week, in Denver.)

Such a pleasure yesterday to reconnect with Virgil Dean, editor emeritus of Kansas History, and to have him formally introduce me to the current and exceedingly competent editor, Kristin Eps. As a member of her board of editors, a Kansan, and a prairie historian, I wish her all success with the journal. Also good to chat with Joyce Harrison, of University Press of Kansas. All best wishes there, too. The great delight of the day was time spent with Lynsay Flory, public historian extraordinaire and a PhD student of mine.

The final KAH session I attended yesterday was a screening of the docu-drama Home on the Range and a Q & A with its producer, Ken Spurgeon. Looking forward to release of his cincmatic work in progress, The Contested Plains.

I find myself taking a lot of notes – on history and historians – which is a good sign. OK now, off to sessions, thence back to my desk to unwind and write.

Thomas D. Isern

Professor of History & University Distinguished Professor, North Dakota State University

3 thoughts on “Old Songs, Old Friends, New Songs, New Friends

  • March 26, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Kelley, who came in early from Philly for the WCFS last night and helped me check connections.

  • March 26, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    Your live last night did not come thru on FACEBOOK.
    Sorry to have missed it. Where can I find it now.

    • March 26, 2022 at 10:00 pm

      Sorry about that, Bee. Look on the timeline at facebook.com/plainsfolk, it’s available for play there.


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